Mill Race Marathon organizers want participants in the annual event to have fun and enjoy their experience in the 5K, half-marathon and marathon races, whether that’s achieving a goal of simply finishing, setting a new personal record or qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
However, race organizers demonstrated Saturday what’s most important: the health and safety of participants.
This year, the fifth annual marathon event presented a challenge as temperatures climbed into the mid-80s by late morning and early afternoon. High humidity early on made matters worse.
Marathon organizers did the responsible thing by encouraging runners to observe the hot-weather forecast and listen to their bodies, and consider running the half-marathon if they had signed up for the 26.2-mile marathon and expected to take 4 hours or longer to finish. Runners could do this by following the half-marathon course at the 12-mile split instead of staying on the marathon route.
The last thing organizers wanted was for runners to push themselves to complete the marathon, only to suffer a serious medical episode.
By making marathon runners who cut their day short still eligible for the grand prize truck giveaway, runners didn’t need to push the limits in a dangerous way.
Apparently, they listened on a day when — at least for a while — the race appeared to be in danger of being black flagged (halted) for being too great of a health risk for runners. The race reached red flag (high risk) status by 9:50 a.m., one step below calling for a halt to the race.
Of the 282 runners who registered for Saturday’s full marathon, 182 completed the full distance. That statistic suggests that as many as 100 runners considered the conditions and how they were performing and cut their day short by finishing as half-marathon participants instead.
Besides the concern shown by event organizers, an army of volunteers also had the best interests of runners as a top priority in their work at water stations, the medical tent and in distributing food and water to runners after the race, for example.
Professional medical staffers were well prepared for runners who were dehydrated or overheated, ready with wet towels and water to help them cool down, and cots and IVs if a little more assistance was required.
While some runners required some extra help, no serious issues arose thanks to the quick reactions of volunteers and medical personnel who were extra vigilant in checking for runners in distress.
The day presented challenges and concerns, but race organizers and volunteers responded admirably.
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